LeBron James is approaching yet another milestone.
James has been chasing the “Ghost from Chicago” for fifteen years. Every career decision and accomplishment has been geared towards being better than Michael Jordan. Most recently, James passed “His Airness” in career playoff points scored. He accomplished this feat during the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals. When LeBron steps on the court tonight, he will tie Jordan in total games played at 1,072.
The debate between LeBron and Jordan is polarizing, with many still leaning towards the greatness of “Air Jordan”. Most people prefer Jordan and his flawless NBA finals resume of six rings and six Finals MVP trophies in six appearances. The greatness of both players cannot be denied, but as LeBron James sets to tie Jordan in games played, it is a good time to stack the resumes of the hall of fame players.
While comparing the players, the first item that stands out is that Jordan played his 1,072nd game at the age of 40, where James is about to reach that milestone at 32. This is partly due to the fact that these players arrived to the NBA via different paths. James entered the league at the age of 18 out of Akron St. Vincent St. Mary High School in Ohio, while Jordan entered the league at the age of 21 out of the University of North Carolina. James will end up playing many more career games than Jordan, but college does not tell the whole story. Jordan left basketball to pursue a professional baseball career that cost him NBA playing time. Furthermore, he retired from the NBA on more than one occasion.
Another stat that caught my eye was durability. Both players have played in 15 seasons, and there is a large discrepancy in the times all 82 regular season games were played. Jordan played all 82 games nine times, whereas James has yet to play in every game of a season.
The biggest knock to the James side is the number of NBA Championships. As I mentioned earlier, Jordan won six titles, whereas LeBron has won three. LeBron’s style of play has led to a significant amount more triple doubles (posting double digits in at least three of the following stats: points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks) than Jordan, where Jordan has exploded for over 20 more 50-point games.
As far as rate statistics go, Jordan has the edge in points per game (30.1 to 27.1) but James has more rebounds and assists per game. Jordan has nine first-team all-NBA defense honors compared to James’ five. Lastly, James has four regular season MVPs, falling just short of Jordan’s five.
While the dispute will continue to ensue for countless years, let’s not forget along the way that we are all witnessing true sustained greatness every night James takes the floor. While we wait for LeBron to complete his NBA resume, we should all hope for 1,072 more games from King James.
Written by Kevin Kinder, Second Nexus Contributor